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Except from:
Wink, J. (2010, 4/e, pp.180-181) Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the REAL WORLD. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Library Mapping Activity

I live in a very small town called Atwater, which is roughly twenty-five minutes from Turlock. I was lucky enough to have my parents, who helped me purchase my first home this year, which is in a great location in a quiet neighborhood around the corner from a great elementary school. I am also lucky enough to have the small city of Atwater’s public library right down the street. For this reason I did not take public transportation because it was within walking distance and a fairly nice day outside.

After making the short 5–10 minute walk I entered the library actually for the very first time. I knew that the library was there, yet for some reason I had never made the time to discover it. When I arrived there I stopped and watched for about twelve minutes. I saw cars passing back and forth, rarely seeing anyone walking. I noticed that there were no sidewalks along the adjacent streets; apparently the town is still rural enough that people mostly drive to their destinations. I also realized that besides myself there were no other pedestrians in the area the entire time I sat outside.

I imagined myself as an immigrant child who spoke no English when I walked inside the library. I noticed right away that there were no signs or illustrations to show me where the books were located that were in my native language. The librarian was an elderly white woman who clearly was not bilingual. I noticed there was a children’s section way in the back corner so I went in search of two books. After going through at least thirty books I found two that were not completely in my native language but were written both in English and Spanish; the text switched back and forth along with pictures to describe the story line.

These two books were all I could find after being in there for an hour, and they were almost picture books, clearly for children a lot younger than ten years old. I was very disappointed at my experience. I took my books and proceeded to check out. The librarian asked me if I had a card and noticed quickly she became very agitated when I responded with a confused look. She then threw a library card at me and told me to sign it. I scribbled an illegible signature on the card, grabbed my books, and left.

I really had no idea that in a city so small, but so full of immigrant children, our library would consist of all English literature and no help for people who had any other native language. This assignment was actually a huge eye-opener, and I have already discussed the issue with my mother, who works for city hall in our town. I plan on being at the next town hall meeting and addressing this close-to-home topic because it is a slap in the face that in 2009 we do not have every outlet possible for children and adults alike who speak any language to further their education.